Likuena pray for end of poor run

MASERU — They have toiled for 450 minutes without finding the net.

Their last win came exactly 330 days ago when they edged the Comoros 1-0 at the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup in South Africa.

The slide on the FIFA world rankings has continued unabated.

At number 164, Lesotho are only better than 43 of the countries ranked by the world football body.

With such staggering statistics, Lesotho coach Zavisa Milosavljevic’s challenge is as clear as the nose on one’s face.

The Serb gaffer will be hoping for a change of fortune when his charges visit Swaziland for a double-header this weekend.

The two sides first meet tomorrow before clashing again on Sunday.

When they gather for team-talk, Likuena are likely to end with a prayer like this: “Dear Lord, help us end this poor form.”

Milosavljevic this week promised an attacking approach from Likuena in Swaziland.

After a two-week training camp, Milosavljevic’s original 25-man squad has been trimmed to 19 players.

None of Lesotho’s foreign stars — captain Lehlohonolo Seema, Bokang Mothoana or Moitheri Ntobo — have been considered.

Also excluded from the trip are Lekhotla Pitso and Retšelisitsoe Moloisane.

Tomorrow’s match will be Lesotho’s first since a tame 0-0 draw against a weakened Botswana side at Central Prison at the end of March.

That result against a second-string side of one of Africa’s football weaklings – plus Likuena’s overall dismal performance on the international arena – has prompted Milosavljevic to adopt an offensive tactic.

“We want to play offensive football,” he told the Lesotho Times this week.

“The plan is always same – to play well and improve.”

Speaking after the Likuena’s final training session, Milosavljevic indicated he could employ a 4-3-3 formation, a change from the two-pronged attack used against Botswana.

“We want to be attacking and the formation I like is 4-3-3,” he said.

Sello Muso is again expected to spearhead Likuena’s attack.

The Lioli forward is a man in form having scored five goals in his side’s charge to the Buddie Premier League title.

The extra forward berth may also mean a start for exciting Likhopo forward Thapelo Tale, who made a noticeable impact after coming on as a substitute against Botswana.

Whatever Milosaljevic decides, he will have to overcome Likuena’s biggest headache – goal scoring.

 “We don’t have a typical striker in Lesotho who can score goals,” Milosavljevic said. “That is the biggest problem for Likuena at the moment.”

LDF forward Lire Phiri has again been picked in midfield for Likuena, despite scoring 13 goals league goals this past season.

Against Botswana, Phiri was a peripheral figure on the left wing, but Milosavljevic is sticking by his guns.

“It is his team’s choice (to play him as a striker),” he said.

“For Matlama, Thapelo Mokhehle plays left-back but for Likuena he plays centre-back.”

The defence, which Milosavljevic described as “solid but not perfect”, is once again expected to be Lesotho’s strongest unit.

Thabo Masualle and Lereko Matsipa are both coming off Lioli’s title success, while Mokhehle and club-mate Nkau Lerotholi’s form has attracted interest from South African clubs.

Explosive LCS fullback Khoto Sesinyi is expected to again captain the team in the absence of Seema.

Behind the back four however the goalkeeping situation remains unresolved.

Swallows’ Sam Ketsekile has been Likuena’s preferred custodian but Milosavljevic said the number one jersey is still up for grabs.

“We are still trying to find the best,” he said, “We have two matches in Swaziland and everyone will get a chance to play.”

Swaziland, coached by Shakes Mashaba, have called up a full-strength side including the country’s South Africa-based players.

Milosavljevic however remained upbeat as Likuena headed to the kingdom.

“We have a lot of young players. I expect a lot from them but they need time, training and matches,” he said.

“There is a lot of potential in the team. But potential without matches is not potential. Like talent without a job is not talent.”

He added: “This year we have only played two matches. It is very difficult for me to compose a team.

“We always have to begin from the beginning because there is a long time between matches.

“We need to build a new Likuena team with a winning mentality.”

Likuena squad in Swaziland

Goalkeepers: Sam Ketsekile (Swallows), Lekunutu Tšoeunyane (LMPS), Mohau Kuenane (Lioli).

Defenders: Thabo Masualle, Lereko Matsipa (both Lioli), Nkau Lerotholi, Thapelo Mokhehle (both Matlama), Khoto Sesinyi, Mpitsa Marai (both LCS).

Midfielders: Moli Lesesa (Joy), Bushy Moletsane (Lioli), Motlalepula Mofolo (Orlando Pirates), Lire Phiri, Molefe Lekoekoe (both LDF), Nyakhane Nyakhane (Likhopo).

Strikers: Sello Muso (Lioli), Mokone Marabe, Tšepo Lekhooana, Thapelo Tale (all Likhopo).

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